12 Poems – Fall 2015

By Simon Perchik



Upside down, as if this cup

was once a blossom

would overflow with the tears


mourners fill then row ashore

–it’s empty, close to the grass

though her grave is still damp


from this hillside washing over it

scraping from these headstones

a lighthouse for each wooden boat


pulled from the sea –you heard

a trumpet when the cup capsized

is done, put down its sound


as if there was nothing to lower

that wasn’t crushed on these rocks

still trying to lift, one after another.
























A few hours and all the stars

come together where the sun

waits in one piece again –to survive


you wear a bracelet in bed

let the beads circle down

as if in the dark the window


becomes a mirror, could be rain

pressed against the glass

where some sea is drifting as small holes


being filled with falling tides

and the madness not yet a morning

though glow is everything


when surrounded by a shadow

no longer feeling its way across this wall

to escape the corners already afternoons.




























With each step, this stream

is filtered by the splash

that’s eased along a path


made pure, blessed, led

by water flowing into evenings

the way returning mourners


bathe their feet on shores

that wash away the rust with tears

making their way home step by step


dripping from your face –you wade

as if an echo was being lowered

for more water though you don’t drink


take nothing away except the afternoon

filled with an empty grave

no longer where it was.




























It’s easy for clothes, scattered

to dry on the dirt when the grass

turned brown though you


still struggle with dew and the kisses

two by two spread out as a scarf

warming what’s left from the wash


–drown what you want

there’s no lighthouse and the sun

no longer sifts this backyard


for shallows or reefs –nothing wet

will sink and from far off

is growing salt water for moons


and the stillness already too heavy

to reach up as sleeves

is filled with tears and the ground.




























You dead were already here, the water

came later with little black boats

not yet as streams and wandering –it stayed


the way your grave rests on the bottom

and this valley fills with pieces

still smelling from moonlight –each tear


overflows as the small stone

brighter and brighter, returned each night

to the hillside they once were.




































With every footstep one more star

is uprooted, turns toward you

the way these graves are lit


as an offering –in such a darkness

you loosen another rock

till it overflows and with each sunrise


a lake found only in mountains

empties, is followed by an afternoon

adrift in a wound so deep


not even your shadow can escape

is rotting on the ground, swollen

though your eyes more than usual


stay wet, covered with nights

and your hands trying to open

to dry without coming back.




























Before each landing these stone steps

soften for mops and brushes

the way all feathers are preened


by heights and distances –this old tenement

is heated for 6 moons, 12 stars,1 stairwell

for each ascent, spreading it out


and though there is no fire

you dead still arrive as smoke

that now is the other way around


has become a river, on course

waiting for the wind to let go

touch down, suddenly dry your hands.































“…to undress

the river and

place the water beside your body.”


Bruno K. Oijer


You cover your eyes the way this casket

reaches around from behind then falls

where the darkened water comes undone


as moonlight, spreads its make-believe

already filled with streams bitten into

by the small mouths guessing who


is standing beside what has become a lake

calling to the boat below that’s not moving

though you are drowning in this bathroom mirror


that’s waving its arms where there are no waves

from shipwrecks or oars or in your heart

some rope that’s lost the sound from bells


could no longer pick up the bottom, tie it

to your bones that come only at night and knock

as the thud that cannot dry in the open.























You died with your eyes open

though the scream smells from salt

hidden in the chimes pulled by boats


and reefs that become waterproof

once they leave land the way shorebirds

track a fishing fleet and what’s left


–these gravestones no longer move

are shining where a sea should be

could show the sun on your face


at low tide, waiting for you to let it rise

and from the wet dirt between your lips

finish the drink, swallow you whole.
































Each night now, you arrive at the morgue

with pen and ink for the sheet stretched out

still wanting to tell how it happened


waits for you to pull up the same chair

the way each sentence will seal its words in place

as the silence that never had a chance


was burnt alive in the same straight line

arrows use to guide thirsty lovers

into each others arms with thunder


though it’s your fingers now, still wet

rubbed down to the bone, bubbling over the name

coming back to life beside you.
































You hold your shadow back, kept in

till the sun comes closer, stuffed

with light it can no longer carry


–it’s then you let it go, empty your eyes

the way each evening in sorrow

makes room for those tears


not shallow enough to dry your heart

with salt, certain it will leach into the ground

as a river already dark, whose shadow


is pushing the Earth away, alone

and in a small wooden boat, tooth and claw

all these gravestones rowing it ashore.
































Sometimes, your hands won’t close

though they ask for an end

then pour their warmth into this cup


–cracked the way primordial ponds

were stirred by the far away that once

was two rivers filled with rain


to darken the bottom with the small stones

not yet its tears –you still weep

while the brew flows over your lips


and the word for a great heaviness

that became the Earth –you fondle the cup

till it empties as kisses that just as slowly


take root, stained, caked at the rim

smell from dried steam and the magic

uncertain how to grow on its own


Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan ReviewThe Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013).  For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

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